The EU is the most important market for Turkey’s clothing exports but currently Turkish ready-to-wear exporters are under pressure from their competitors in the EU market, such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. According to HadiKarasu, the new President of Turkey Clothing Manufacturers’ Association (TGSD), if no measures are taken, their power can be lost in the near future. Turkey has all the values needed to become a leader in apparel in the world. Outgoal is to translate this power into gains that would boost their country’s economy and industry. In 2017 Turkey exported clothing worth $12,2 bn to the EU, which was 71.4 per cent of Turkey’s total clothing exports. Main markets among the members of the EU were Germany and the UK. In 2017, exports to Germany increased by 1.9 per cent to $3.2 bn, while exports to Spain increased by 19.8 per cent to $2.1 bn and exports to the UK decreased by 3.4 per cent to $2 bn.
The Netherlands was in fourth place with an export value of $861 mn, and France in fifth place with $843.9 mn. Throughout the year, knitted clothing and accessories were the most exported product groups. Knitwear exports declined by 0.1 per cent to $8.9 bn in 2017 compared to 2016. Meanwhile, exports of the second largest group, woven apparel goods and accessories, rose by 0.4 per cent to $6 bn. Exports of other ready-made goods including home textile products, increased by 3 per cent to $2 bn. Turkey’s place among the countries that the EU’s imports come from is in the third place. They invite the Turkish political authority to work together on new projects that will direct, brand and support Turkish apparel producers.
EU’s perception of Pakistan and Bangladesh is a big threat for Turkey. They make 74 per cent of their apparel exports to EU member countries. It is very important for them to protect their position in the EU. Increasing close contacts with European countries, especially Germany, is a priority in their 2018 targets. Besides this, US market should be an important target for them. Entering this market provides a great opening in numerical terms. Turkey has lost their place among the countries that the EU imports into the third place. They provide about 7-8 per cent of supply behind China and Bangladesh. Bangladesh and Pakistan are positioned as cheap labour power countries and are supported by the EU and the US. They will guide and lead the Turkish apparel industry with the right strategies, using new technologies; to increase the value added higher branded and technical product exports. The ready-to-wear sector grew by 2 per cent in real terms in 2017. In 2017, there has been no change in exports. The ready-to-wear sector produced approximately $40 bn worth of products in 2017. Out of these, $17 bn were exported. Marked exports can reach $40-50 per kg, while unbranded products are at $20 per kg.